Post-sternotomy complications

Post-sternotomy complications comprise of a varied range problem that can occur at varying durations after a median sternotomy. Imaging playing in detection and aiding management.

Complication rates for median sternotomy have been reported to range from 0.5-5%, with mortality rates from these ranging from 7-80%

They are perhaps best divided into presternal, sternal and post-sternal compartments:

  • cellulitis
  • sinus tract formation
  • presternal abscess formation
Post-sternal/retrosternal
  • expected post-surgical appearances: can persist for around 2-3 weeks
    • small foci of mediastinal gas: usually resolve by around 7 days postoperatively but can persist longer
    • defects in the sternum (including of gaps up to 4 mm in width)
    • step-offs (sternal tables at different levels)
    • impaction (overriding of the sternal halves)

Article information

rID: 64682
System: Cardiac, Chest
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Complications following sternotomy
  • Sternotomy complications
  • Poststernotomy complications

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: migrated sternotomy wire
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  • Case 2: sternal dehiscence
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